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What does a minute’s silence mean?

It means, “shut the f*ck up!”

It means, make no noise!

It means let me think for a minute. Let me reflect.

It does not mean blow bugles and beat drums. It does not mean raise flags and banners, sing songs of victory and glory and righteous pride.

Noise is the enemy of silence.

Pomp and ceremony are the enemy of reflection, of thinking, of genuine not confected emotions.

Nauseating pomp and excruciating ceremony and all the commercialism that these are cocooned in, do nothing more than mock the genuine sentiment that brought about this, the most eloquent form of expression, the moment of silence.

There is no more powerful, no more phosphorescent sign of hypocrisy than the three-word-slogan -because that’s what sentences too often uttered become – than the catchcry, “lest we forget!” It is an insult to those who have died and an insult to those who have survived; those who see the bombs – our bombs! – scorching the planet to its core, who hear the groans of pain and agony, of despair, of despondency, of the savage loss of their loved ones, of their homes, their farms, everything they hold dear and are wondering what is the point of this three-word-slogan?

Lest we forget what? What exactly?

And who is this “we?”

“We” that is the common man and woman has never caused a single war. Never!

The common man and woman looks at their children and grandchildren, their siblings, their ageing mums and dads, uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbours, tomatoes and zucchini growing in their vegie patch and rejoice. They need nothing more. That is their ultimate, their heaven. War is the very last thing they want. They do not start it and they do not impose it. No common man or woman wants to lose a jot of it and if the politicians were just common men and women, they’d make sure that this heaven is nurtured and nourished.

All politicians. In all countries.

But politicians are not are they? They are not common men and women, I mean. They are certainly not there to nurture and nourish an earthly Heaven, one that is populated by men and women, with hearts and minds and bodies that age and ache as they do. Men and women who are unequivocally mortal and with very short lives.

Politicians despite what they tell us are there to serve those who have no respect for all those things that make up a common man and woman’s Heaven.

Lest we forget?

“We” have forgotten, “we” forget and “we” do not learn because nothing, in effect, ever changes.

From the days of the 300 Spartans to this very moment, nothing has changed, nothing has been learnt, nothing shall be remembered.

Nothing promotes war than parades of phalanxes of current and past soldiers, of soldiers’ children and grandchildren, with glistening steel raised high, of shining medals, of over-starched uniforms and over-polished, boisterous boots. Nothing speaks more clearly of the powerlessness of the ordinary man and woman and the absolute and indomitable power of the elite, the war mongers.

Nothing extinguishes humility as effectively as pride. Monuments, the budgets of which can lift a nation out of poverty, give shelter to the homeless, treatment to the sick, untold wisdom to the students are monuments of pride.

And Pride is a path to ruin.

Nothing will change other than the faces of the sanctimonious politicians who stand straight as an insouciant post with their right arm rising to a salute.

The last post, bugled and sung and acted out over and over again for all eternity. Speech after sententious speech, rhetoric trying to rival Pericles’ Funeral Oration, flows out of their mouth with emotions so hollow, so vacuous, so insincere that hardly a single syllable of those speeches will be heard, or heeded or remembered a minute after they’ve been uttered. Not the words, not the dramaturgy, not the histrionics.

Dissembling and dissimulating at their most monstrous, at their most grotesque.

If “we” are to remember anything, it is that politicians lie, politicians are oily, unctuous beasts; that politicians send us to wars, wars that we have not caused and wars that we do not want, wars that are anything but silent, anything but harbingers of peace or nurturers of our earthly Heaven.

If “we” are to remember anything it is that we shouldn’t fictionalise wars. That we shouldn’t mythologise it, that we shouldn’t romanticise it, that we shouldn’t clog History with wars and heroes and victims of wars. There are no moral lessons in wars, only immoral ones.

Thucydides, a soldier himself, tells us that he wrote the History of the Peloponnesian War so as to see what war does to morality. What he could learn about man’s character and how it’s affected by war. What he saw displeased him enormously. War destroyed morality, morality being the most crucial part of man’s character.

“We” do not want Trump’s parade, or that of North Korea, among many, many others.

“We” want the war mongers, the greedy and the gluttonous powerful, those deluded enough to think that money and power will give them physical immortality, those who think that making funeral orations in front of cameras give them a moral advantage over their political adversaries, to stop.

Just stop!

“We” want them to be silent and to reflect and to let us reflect.

That’s what “we” want!


26 comments

  1. Josephus

    Eloquent, dignified and angry. Ought to be front page of every publication, and read instead of the eulogies. What to do? Not shoot those who refused to go to their deaths on the barbed wire. All should have said no. All.

    Perhaps, too, what the anarchists wanted, then? Small self governing groups, mundane common tasks being taken by annually rotating committees? Somewhat like the wiser communities of yore. Yet somehow there were wars then, too.
    What can each of us do?

  2. DrakeN

    “Pomp and ceremony are the enemy of reflection, of thinking, of genuine not confected emotions.”
    That, Dear George, is exactly why the powers-that-be insist on these rites.
    An analytical, thoughful and open-minded population is that which the wealthy and powerful fear the most, so they indoctrinate us with tales of derring-do and heroic sacrifice to deflect from the realities of conflict and war: The filth, pain, terror and dispair that battles inflict on combatants and innocent civilians alike.

  3. Ill fares the land

    Not to mention the thousands who trek to Gallipolli and put on their show of empathy and then depart, leaving behind a mountain of rubbish for others to clean up – great show of respect. I think that trip has become embedded into the shibboleth that the entire ANZAC issue has become – at its core is unfathomable pain, loss and suffering (I ask myself where all that pain goes – the families that lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers et alia- where does the agony of those who suffer those losses go? For the many, it never really leaves – for them ANZAC is real and not just twice a year. For everyone else, it is mostly, I suspect, a facade of empathy. Hollow words from politicians and journalists trying to sound respectful and sincere. But as the author notes, none of the celebration that ANZAC has descended into has resulted in fewer wars. No great war perhaps, but endless smaller wars, some even encouraged by the Murdoch press who strongly supported the Iraq invasion – presumably because Murdoch saw opportunities in a MIddle East that he felt would be soon overrun by American culture. Where is Rupert the Scum when the dead and damaged return home? We have learned, I mean really learned, nothing from ANZAC. The ANZAC celebration has, like most other things that infect our modern society, become commercialised & competitive.

  4. New England Cocky

    Lest.We.Forget.YASSMIN.Manus.Nauru.Domestic.Violence.Iraq.Afghanistan.

  5. Phil Gorman

    Thank you George, and all the other contributors. You have moved me to tears.

  6. paul walter

    The ABC has been banging on about it for days non stop.

    It seems the ructions there of a month a go did nothing to break the hold of the oligarchicstate on it as corporatist propaganda organ.

    Pravda and Volkischer Beobachter, Nine and Murdoch combined, would shrivel in shame at what has befallen the ABC and adult viewers over the last decade.

    Cant even the Right understand that living in a bubble or shoving one’s head in the sand doesn’t stop the onward march of reality. Sensible persons watch for the signs and act to adjust Hiding from reality doesn’t make it go away.

  7. Very Special Guest

    I would like people shut up and think before they say a borrowed comment.Personally I have had gutfull of the jingoism of Multiculturism.Left unchecked like it is now.So many migrants now have very little willingness to learn English as they just congregate with people from own countries and never truly mix and connect the broader community.As many seem to know the cost of everything and value of nothing.We have became gullible and stupid for allowing this division to divide our society.

  8. Jon Chesterson

    ‘Noise is the enemy of silence.
    Pomp and ceremony are the enemy of reflection…’

    How politicians reck the peace and sully the loss.
    Thank you George, for the rage and capture of that still small voice.

  9. Michael Taylor

    Very Special Guest, how many Aboriginal languages do you speak?

  10. Zathras

    My parents were European WW2 war refugee migrants who came to Australia and tended to congregate with others of the same nationality.
    They gradually learned enough English to function within society yet spoke their native tongue at home and with others and led productive lives. Like many of their contemporaries they were involved in the production of many of the large post-war infrastructure projects we enjoy today and I once knew a former Professor of Mathematics whose credential were destroyed in the war and ended up working as a labourer in the Steelworks. The option of regaining his qualifications were not an option because he needed to feed his family but he was grateful to have been provided a chance for a new life.

    Two generations later my parents have repaid Australia with an environmental scientist, a midwife and a medical Phd sonographer – and that’s just on my side.

    Next time you’re in London, go to Earl’s Court – or Kangaroo Valley as it’s sometimes called. That’s an enclave where many expatriat Australians tend to congregate. Every major city has areas like this for all nationalities.

    As for commemorative days like today or ANZAC day, those are times where politicians and other wartime opportunists should be in hiding. They should be days of public outrage, not silence.

  11. Very Special Guest

    Zero.You can play your one uppmanship card.And touche.So what I wrote is a load of shit do you think? Not relevant I should go back in my cave and not come out untill Easter.So what is your solution Michael? Millennials don’t engage outside their phones and computers.Ask a Chinaman where something is.They respond like Sergent Schultz.I will enrol in Djinang Language Course next week just to please you.And I will try to be more positive.Everything is great.

  12. Very Special Guest

    Zathras I never did that shit.Re London.We made it that your parents wanted to try their best.Australia is a very different place now.Many foreigners mock a lot of what we once held dear.Anyway I best prepare for my new Aboriginal language course.Bonza Mate.

  13. New England Cocky

    Great story Zathras, one of many such success stories from the post WWII migrant programme. Australian professional societies (“unions”) responded to the influx of often better qualified academics and professionals by banning professional qualifications from non-British institutions. Many Jewish Austrian migrants were at least as well qualified as graduates from Australia universities, but were “discouraged”/prevented from working in their field by these professional bans.

    This even applied after the influx of Vietnamese refugees in the 70s, and even now with current migrants.

    I recently had a taxi driver who was veterinarian with 10 years professional experience from East Africa who was told to re-train at an Australian university if he wanted to practice in Australia.

    Successive governments have slashed funding for English language classes at the (old?) Australian Migrant Education Service so that migrants naturally gather where they can communicate, and kids frequently become translators for their parents.

  14. Adrianne Haddow

    Thank you George. A truly moving article that should resonate with us all.

    We, the ordinary people, have all been affected by the legacy of war.

    My father ‘served’ in WW2. He never felt the need to march in the ANZAC parade. His service medals gathered dust at the bottom of his drawer. He never spoke about his experiences, preferring to bury them in his memory and not turn them into a ‘boy’s own adventure’ story by sharing them with his family.

    ‘Lest we forget’ was not meant to aggrandise war, but rather to serve as a warning not to let it happen again.(at least in my family)

    Good comment Zathras.
    Many of my friend’s families had similar experiences in their loss of recognition of their professional qualifications on migration to Australia. A waste of professional skills and experience, and a loss to Australian society.

  15. helvityni

    Thank you George; agree with your sentiments, beautifully expressed…

    My dad never spoke of his war experiences, he was happy to put it all behind him, and enjoyed growing, not so much tomatoes and zucchini, but rye, potatoes, and hay for the cattle’s winter feed…he was proud of his pine and spruce forests….

    He never celebrated war and battles; a rare human being, and a very good peace-loving man….

  16. Jon Chesterson

    Very Special Guest – How many languages do you speak? You were born here but from where have you roamed? I am fed up listening to whinging ‘white’ Australians and politicians bleeding on about migrants not speaking good English when many of those who complain can’t even speak or write English correctly themselves, let alone speak another language, I don’t hear them speaking Aboriginal. Check what you wrote.

    Dutton talks about illiterate refugees when he himself is largely illiterate, unable to make sense as a public speaker and lacks any moral code of conduct. Who is he to judge either? Morisson speaks in monosyllabic slogans, repeats himself so often due to poverty of thought, prejudice, lies and mission, as do many of his so called well educated Liberal mates, you wonder how he ever got through school… born in Waverley, brought up in Bronte, Eastern suburbs, one of the most affluent suburbs of Sydney. Given his lack of critical thinking how the hell did he even get through his economic geography degree at the University of NSW in his first language English, or would that be ‘Australian’?

    All the while, I see migrants from all walks of life and many cultures conversing in their second language, studying bachelors, masters and PhDs in English, keeping our Australian universities in business and contributing to our domestic economy, enriching our culture. Why the bloody hell shouldn’t they talk in their native language when they choose, its a free country, we all do, you do, don’t you?

    ‘I have had gutfull of the jingoism of Multiculturism’… really, replete with spelling errors, a grammatical mistake and dissonant oxymoron, the relevance of which confounds me given the title of the article is about the meaning of silence in our remembrance. Remembering that many who fought in these wars, fought on the same side from many other countries, as well as our own. It is those white Australian ‘non-english speaking’ single-minded, ethnocentric bleaters, blowing their bugle who don’t think before they speak and put anyone else ‘not like them’ down, who fail to grasp the idiocy of their prejudice and intolerance.

    Please do try to stay on topic.

  17. Pilot

    Jon Chesterson, well said ol’ boy. I seriously doubt whether the dropkick read anything past the 1st paragraph of your post, but hey, well said, could not agree more.

    Amazing how the lies and innuendo of the Lying Nasty Party can influence those of lesser intellect, and those particular persons are the first to expose to the World their ignorance and gullibility by screaming absolute garbage and laying bare their ignorance for us to see.

    “‘Tis better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

  18. Very Special Guest

    Jon Chesterson 1) I speak English only.2)Why do you mention being a white male? 3)You get my meaning regardless of grammer.4) I am raising issues; contemporary society is grappling with.5) Everything is relevent regardless where the topic starts.6) You have pigeon holed me as only having an ethnocentric attitude to everything.7) And yes sir I will try to stay on topic Sir, Yes Sir. 8) And yes John Jingoism can lead to over-playing or the complacency regarding War and Multiculturalism; respectively. So Jon that’s how you have a rational debate is it ? 9)Happy for you to point out my grammer and punctuation errors Sir.10)These are my own thoughts based on my daily interactions.

  19. Judith

    To “Very special guest”. I’m a hesitantly proud 7th generation Aussie with ancestors dating back to 1835. I see multiculturalism “taking over” my local area and enjoy sharing my local knowledge with them as much as I enjoy experiencing their culture.
    I’m more concerned with what we locals are doing to our country – burning forests, driving species to extinction, and the unhumane treatment of the vulnerable in our society.
    The new arrivals to this country seem to value it more than most IMHO.

  20. Very Special Guest

    Yes Judith some new arrivals add a new understanding and appreciaction of what we already have here.Though lets not be all so pollyanna-ish about our immigration intake and how it’s implemented and how we go about developing our cities and country towards a more cohesive society in general. And environmental vandals and evil are everywhere in the world.

    And thanks for your great input Pilot.

  21. Very Special Guest

    Nice piece George and I am sorry I took it in a different direction. I agree with all your sentiments.

  22. george theodoridis

    Thank you all for reading, for your thoughts and for your very kind words.
    I am moved by your sentiments which so closely correspond to mine.

    If solemnity in death needs anything, if the cemeteries of the unjustly fallen desire anything, it is silence.
    It is those who have caused those deaths, who have dug all those endless acres of cemeteries who want the noise and the ceremony and the huge monuments and the puffed up chests and the billowing pride; and they want all this so as to hide the evil behind that deed, behind their culpability of it.

    And they are also a vulgar sales pitch to the young to get them to enlist for more wars, for more fallen, more graves and more billowing pride.

    Again, many thanks.

  23. Andreas

    Thank you, George, for your final heartfelt comments and your courage to voice these points.

    What a deceptive weave has been constructed in this country around the evil of war!
    And now obscene amounts of money to be spent on this monstrous monument to eternal stupidity, the Aus War Memorial. Memorizing futile slaughter while promoting more of the same, this is insane!

    Let it be torn down as a relict of the old unenlightened times and let this country bring all of its warriors home and take its position as a free member of all nations striving to ensure PEACE.

  24. George Theodoridis

    Thank you, Andreas.
    I wholeheartedly agree with every syllable of your post.

  25. Ken

    George! – you imposed yourself into my life and others by a post on FaceBook I like your gall and the more I looked into your background (you gave the links) the more strange I found you to be _ I am very impressed – I am privileged that your views are so much like mine – but you are committed and believe your views – I constantly question mine – Thank you

  26. George Theodoridis

    You are most welcome, Ken. Very pleased our views are similar.
    All the best.

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